These hats are made from thatch palm or “paja toquilla” and have been hand woven in Ecuador since the XVI Century.
They are considered the best straw hats in the world. These hats were never woven in Panama.
The Panama Hat is known and was named after its point of export, rather than its point of origin. All genuine Panama hats are hand-wovenin Ecuador using toquilla straw. They can be traced back to the 16th century where the Incas were the first to weave hats using this type of straw.
In 1526, Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Ecuador, many of the inhabitants of the coastal areas had woven straw headwear. They are called sombreros de paja toquilla or hats of toquilla straw in Ecuador.
The hat bodies are meticulously hand-woven, refined, edged, smoothed and bleached by Ecuadorian artisans in situ before traveling to hatters all over the world who block and trim them into familiar styles.
In the mid 1800’s a more practical, wide-brimmed hat was created. The lightweight lids built up quite a reputation, and for a few intrepid businessmen, those natural colored hats were looking mighty green.
Moving the hats from Ecuador, through Panama, out into the rest of the world became quite a lucrative business. Part of the marketing strategy was to give them a recognizable name. Not many people were familiar with Ecuador, so they decided to call them Panama Hats.
Today, 150 years later, this ageless hat is becoming a popular accessory in everyone’s closet.